Shortly after Henry passed away, I remember sitting in his bedroom, preparing things for his memorial service when a voice whispered down from the heavens "inclusive playground." Henry was just three and a half when he earned his angel wings, but we were already starting to face the struggles and frustrations of finding things to do when we went out to play.
He was too big for the baby swings, but he couldn't support himself on traditional swings. He couldn't climb equipment. He couldn't go down the slide on his own, and it was always a struggle to push his chair through the mulched surface that covers most playgrounds. I decided to take these concerns to the City of Jacksonville's Parks and Recreation Department, hoping for a better solution.
I couldn't have met a more supportive group of people, led by Parks and Rec Director Daryl Joseph. He was immediately on board with the idea, but then came the questions of where, and how much money it would cost. Through this process, I was given my playground guru/subject-matter-expert, Landscape Architect Jill Enz with the City of Jacksonville. She presented me with a list of parks that were already due for upgrades and Huffman Boulevard seemed like the best fit. It's fairly centrally located (which is hard in a city as large as Jacksonville), and features other great amenities in addition to its playground such as a basketball courts, tennis courts, an athletic field, gazebo and paved walking path.
With the location chosen, we had to find the right vendor who would be able to realize our vision. We landed on the playground company Kompan for this design and build. Stacy Mosely, our Kompan coordinator, has patiently listened to every piece of feedback and I'm so excited to share one of the initial renderings (see above) of their design concept. We have worked and researched the best ways to include as many difference sensory experiences, while also ensuring that each piece is not only accessible, but offers a dynamic experience for each child. I CANNOT wait until this vision comes to life!
President, Henry's HeRoes Inc.
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